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I normally wouldn't take the time to write a review like this, but there were so few reviews written by moms/dads traveling with their kids, that I thought it might be helpful. We traveled with my mom, and our 3 girls - 7 yo, 4yo and 21 months. Since we live in the Pacific NW, we didn't include Seattle sightseeing in this trip. We drove up the morning up the cruise to Seattle. My husband dropped all of us off at the pier with the luggage, and then went and parked the car. A porter took the luggage, and it was only a short 15 min before he returned on the shuttle. The embarkation process was very smooth. We went through an expedited line because we had a suite. The whole thing took 10 minutes, and we were on board! The first evening and then the next full day at sea were a little "bumpy". Nothing we needed to take anything for, and the kids didn't seem to be bothered, but there were motion sickness bags by all the elevators, and we saw some people not feeling so well. My only experience with cruising is on the smooth waters of Mexico. I had read that we shouldn't experience any rough water, so this was a little surprising. By the morning of the second day, it was fine. We were in a deluxe verandah suite (7048). (My mom was in an inside cabin down the hall with one of the girls.) As I had read, it was definitely worth the extra cost. We needed the room with a play pen and all of us in there using the balcony. It was quite spacious. The balcony was great, the room location was very quiet, and just a few doors down from the Neptune Lounge (the exclusive lounge for suite/penthouse guests). There was tons of closet and drawer space. The bathroom had a tub and separate shower. There were double sinks. There was also a separate vanity area. The couch, which pulled out into a bed, was not comfortable. It was very deep and the cushions did not fit into it well, which meant that they kind of sloped down. It was difficult to sit on. The throw pillows need to be thrown! There are several amenities that come with staying in the suites, too many to list. Besides the space, the use of the Neptune Lounge and personal concierge were the most important. We dealt with one person for all our needs. Whether it was milk for the baby, movie rentals, or general questions, Nette took care of it all. Dining. We ate breakfast and lunch in the Lido. There were lots of choices, and it was fine. We had the early assigned dining time of 5:45 in the Vista Dining room. The food was better than I thought it would be. The first couple of nights, meat was overcooked, but it was quickly fixed. The first couple of nights were also a bit slow, but that seemed to improve as well. We are foodies. My expectations of the food going into it were very low! I was pleasantly surprised. We ate 2 times at the Pinnacle Grill. It was clearly different than the dining room (we wondered if the food really all came from the same place?) It didn't! It really was excellent - and worth the $20 surcharge. (There was no charge for the kids.) We did bring 6 bottles of wine on board. There is an $18 corkage fee - worth it for us! Formal nights. I have 3 girls. We love to dress up! We went all out! My husband actually rented a tuxedo from the on board program. We thought it would be easier than packing his suit. The quality of the tux was poor. He wouldn't do that again. I didn't pay super close attention to the dress, but from what I did notice, people did follow the guidelines. We enjoyed formal nights. We would go to the bar before dinner and get the girls a shirley temple. They thought this was pretty fun! Service. The service was very good! Our room steward was very attentive - but not overbearing. The Neptune Lounge service was exceptional! The main dining room steward made a point of learning the kids' names the first night. Every night he greeted them by name and had their place mat with crayons ready in their "regular" seat. He always had fruit and extra bread for the kids ready, and he brought their meals out early if ours were taking longer. He was very apologetic when things were a bit slow the first couple nights (wasn't his fault!) The crew moving around the ship were very friendly, and even more so with the kids. ClubHal. The 7 and 4 year old went to Club Hal the first evening for the "welcome aboard" activities. The staff were very friendly. But - the girls were not impressed after we left, and thus didn't want to go back. We did try one other activity, but when my husband took them up there, he said everything was very chaotic, kids were running all over, it was really loud, and our kids didn't want to stay. I'm not sure they gave it a fair shot, but that was our experience. There was a list of activities that came out every evening for the next day. There seemed to be lots of fun things. It is broken up by ages. We heard that the "teen" group was having a blast. Spa/Gym. I didn't do any spa services on this trip. We did use the gym 4 days. The first 2 were busy of course, the last few, not so much. The cardio equipment looks out to sea through big picture windows. The first day especially was tough to run because of the rough water! My only complaint here is that a fair number of machines (treadmills, stairclimbers, eliptical, bikes) were out of order. With as busy as it was, this was unacceptable in my opinion. Entertainment. We have seen lots of "shows" in our traveling. As a whole, these were definitely the best! There wasn't a huge amount of variety, but they were good, so it didn't matter. The dancers were very talented, with several women on point. There was an illusion show which was pretty impressive. The show times were at 7 and 9pm. This was great for the kids! We usually finished up with dinner at 7:05 and were there just a few minutes late. Usually the shows start so late, this was a big plus for us, because the kids really enjoyed the shows. Disembarkation. We had a late disembarkation time of 9:30. That way we didn't have to wake the kids up super early. We had breakfast and were able to have a fairly leisurely morning. Getting off was fine. The luggage situation was fairly well organized. At the advise of the porter, my husband went by himself to get the car, and we waited with the luggage. Mistake!! The traffic flow was horrible, the car lines were long to pick up passengers, the people directing traffic didn't care if the cars were by the people/luggage they needed to get. This system needs to be improved. (This is a port issue and has nothing to do with Holland America though.) Packing. The hardest thing about packing for Alaska is the weather. It was 65 in Glacier Bay, 50 and raining in Juneau, and 65 coming into Victoria. We definitely packed with the "layering" idea in mind. It was just a whole lot of stuff for a family of 5. Just a few things: I had fleeces and water/wind proof lightweight jackets for the kids (no heavy coats). We also had long underwear - which they used a couple of times. Jeans were the mainstay during the day. We tended to dress up a little more in the evening, even for the smart casual nights - just because we like to. I had to pack diapers, wipes, some crafty things to do when the baby was sleeping, etc. It all adds up. A few tips that I had gotten from another review that were really helpful: We tied bright colored ribbons on both the room doors. The girls (and us!) could easily spot our room in the long hallways. So many people commented that it was a great idea! We also tied a red balloon on our balcony. The kids could see our room when we were in port. I also brought a over the door shoe holder. They pack so easily at the bottom of the suitcase, and were great for all the "little things" - shoes, hair things, gloves, etc - that tend to pile up on the counter space. There was enough closet/drawer space in the suite that this wasn't absolutely necessary, but it was still nice. I also brought a pop-up hamper. That helped with organizing the dirty clothes. I put them all in one suitcase, and packed all the leftover clean clothes in another suitcase. This was helpful for unpacking. Traveling with kids. If you are reading this, you probably are used to traveling with your kids, or maybe considering it. I had heard that there wouldn't be many kids on the ship, that Holland America tends to cater to an "older" group that may not be as tolerable of kids. We did not feel like a minority. There were a fair number of families on the ship, and a large handful with kids our ages. (There were only 1 or 2 other kids under 2). Our kids are used to traveling and to eating out. There was an 18 month old close to us that wasn't the happiest little guy at dinner time. They were asked to take him out of the dining room. There had been several complaints. I think it was reasonable. Disney cruises would probably be more tolerable of this kind of stuff, but in a formal dining room, a crying baby through all of dinner should be taken out! (IMHO) When our 21 month old got squirmy, we took turns getting up and walking with her - just like we would anywhere else! Summary. We would definitely do another cruise with the kids. Probably not back to Alaska (there are so many places in the world to see!) We were very happy with the service, food and Holland America in general.

Cruising with the kids!

Oosterdam Cruise Review by allaboutshoppin

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: June 2010
  • Destination: Alaska
  • Cabin Type: Neptune Deluxe Verandah Suite
I normally wouldn't take the time to write a review like this, but there were so few reviews written by moms/dads traveling with their kids, that I thought it might be helpful. We traveled with my mom, and our 3 girls - 7 yo, 4yo and 21 months. Since we live in the Pacific NW, we didn't include Seattle sightseeing in this trip. We drove up the morning up the cruise to Seattle. My husband dropped all of us off at the pier with the luggage, and then went and parked the car. A porter took the luggage, and it was only a short 15 min before he returned on the shuttle.
The embarkation process was very smooth. We went through an expedited line because we had a suite. The whole thing took 10 minutes, and we were on board! The first evening and then the next full day at sea were a little "bumpy". Nothing we needed to take anything for, and the kids didn't seem to be bothered, but there were motion sickness bags by all the elevators, and we saw some people not feeling so well. My only experience with cruising is on the smooth waters of Mexico. I had read that we shouldn't experience any rough water, so this was a little surprising. By the morning of the second day, it was fine.
We were in a deluxe verandah suite (7048). (My mom was in an inside cabin down the hall with one of the girls.) As I had read, it was definitely worth the extra cost. We needed the room with a play pen and all of us in there using the balcony. It was quite spacious. The balcony was great, the room location was very quiet, and just a few doors down from the Neptune Lounge (the exclusive lounge for suite/penthouse guests). There was tons of closet and drawer space. The bathroom had a tub and separate shower. There were double sinks. There was also a separate vanity area. The couch, which pulled out into a bed, was not comfortable. It was very deep and the cushions did not fit into it well, which meant that they kind of sloped down. It was difficult to sit on. The throw pillows need to be thrown! There are several amenities that come with staying in the suites, too many to list. Besides the space, the use of the Neptune Lounge and personal concierge were the most important. We dealt with one person for all our needs. Whether it was milk for the baby, movie rentals, or general questions, Nette took care of it all.
Dining. We ate breakfast and lunch in the Lido. There were lots of choices, and it was fine. We had the early assigned dining time of 5:45 in the Vista Dining room. The food was better than I thought it would be. The first couple of nights, meat was overcooked, but it was quickly fixed. The first couple of nights were also a bit slow, but that seemed to improve as well. We are foodies. My expectations of the food going into it were very low! I was pleasantly surprised. We ate 2 times at the Pinnacle Grill. It was clearly different than the dining room (we wondered if the food really all came from the same place?) It didn't! It really was excellent - and worth the $20 surcharge. (There was no charge for the kids.) We did bring 6 bottles of wine on board. There is an $18 corkage fee - worth it for us!
Formal nights. I have 3 girls. We love to dress up! We went all out! My husband actually rented a tuxedo from the on board program. We thought it would be easier than packing his suit. The quality of the tux was poor. He wouldn't do that again. I didn't pay super close attention to the dress, but from what I did notice, people did follow the guidelines. We enjoyed formal nights. We would go to the bar before dinner and get the girls a shirley temple. They thought this was pretty fun!
Service. The service was very good! Our room steward was very attentive - but not overbearing. The Neptune Lounge service was exceptional! The main dining room steward made a point of learning the kids' names the first night. Every night he greeted them by name and had their place mat with crayons ready in their "regular" seat. He always had fruit and extra bread for the kids ready, and he brought their meals out early if ours were taking longer. He was very apologetic when things were a bit slow the first couple nights (wasn't his fault!) The crew moving around the ship were very friendly, and even more so with the kids.
ClubHal. The 7 and 4 year old went to Club Hal the first evening for the "welcome aboard" activities. The staff were very friendly. But - the girls were not impressed after we left, and thus didn't want to go back. We did try one other activity, but when my husband took them up there, he said everything was very chaotic, kids were running all over, it was really loud, and our kids didn't want to stay. I'm not sure they gave it a fair shot, but that was our experience. There was a list of activities that came out every evening for the next day. There seemed to be lots of fun things. It is broken up by ages. We heard that the "teen" group was having a blast.
Spa/Gym. I didn't do any spa services on this trip. We did use the gym 4 days. The first 2 were busy of course, the last few, not so much. The cardio equipment looks out to sea through big picture windows. The first day especially was tough to run because of the rough water! My only complaint here is that a fair number of machines (treadmills, stairclimbers, eliptical, bikes) were out of order. With as busy as it was, this was unacceptable in my opinion.
Entertainment. We have seen lots of "shows" in our traveling. As a whole, these were definitely the best! There wasn't a huge amount of variety, but they were good, so it didn't matter. The dancers were very talented, with several women on point. There was an illusion show which was pretty impressive. The show times were at 7 and 9pm. This was great for the kids! We usually finished up with dinner at 7:05 and were there just a few minutes late. Usually the shows start so late, this was a big plus for us, because the kids really enjoyed the shows.
Disembarkation. We had a late disembarkation time of 9:30. That way we didn't have to wake the kids up super early. We had breakfast and were able to have a fairly leisurely morning. Getting off was fine. The luggage situation was fairly well organized. At the advise of the porter, my husband went by himself to get the car, and we waited with the luggage. Mistake!! The traffic flow was horrible, the car lines were long to pick up passengers, the people directing traffic didn't care if the cars were by the people/luggage they needed to get. This system needs to be improved. (This is a port issue and has nothing to do with Holland America though.)
Packing. The hardest thing about packing for Alaska is the weather. It was 65 in Glacier Bay, 50 and raining in Juneau, and 65 coming into Victoria. We definitely packed with the "layering" idea in mind. It was just a whole lot of stuff for a family of 5. Just a few things: I had fleeces and water/wind proof lightweight jackets for the kids (no heavy coats). We also had long underwear - which they used a couple of times. Jeans were the mainstay during the day. We tended to dress up a little more in the evening, even for the smart casual nights - just because we like to. I had to pack diapers, wipes, some crafty things to do when the baby was sleeping, etc. It all adds up. A few tips that I had gotten from another review that were really helpful: We tied bright colored ribbons on both the room doors. The girls (and us!) could easily spot our room in the long hallways. So many people commented that it was a great idea! We also tied a red balloon on our balcony. The kids could see our room when we were in port. I also brought a over the door shoe holder. They pack so easily at the bottom of the suitcase, and were great for all the "little things" - shoes, hair things, gloves, etc - that tend to pile up on the counter space. There was enough closet/drawer space in the suite that this wasn't absolutely necessary, but it was still nice. I also brought a pop-up hamper. That helped with organizing the dirty clothes. I put them all in one suitcase, and packed all the leftover clean clothes in another suitcase. This was helpful for unpacking.
Traveling with kids. If you are reading this, you probably are used to traveling with your kids, or maybe considering it. I had heard that there wouldn't be many kids on the ship, that Holland America tends to cater to an "older" group that may not be as tolerable of kids. We did not feel like a minority. There were a fair number of families on the ship, and a large handful with kids our ages. (There were only 1 or 2 other kids under 2). Our kids are used to traveling and to eating out. There was an 18 month old close to us that wasn't the happiest little guy at dinner time. They were asked to take him out of the dining room. There had been several complaints. I think it was reasonable. Disney cruises would probably be more tolerable of this kind of stuff, but in a formal dining room, a crying baby through all of dinner should be taken out! (IMHO) When our 21 month old got squirmy, we took turns getting up and walking with her - just like we would anywhere else!
Summary. We would definitely do another cruise with the kids. Probably not back to Alaska (there are so many places in the world to see!) We were very happy with the service, food and Holland America in general.
allaboutshoppin’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Neptune Deluxe Verandah Suite
Cabin SA 7048
We were in a deluxe verandah suite (7048). As I had read, it was definitely worth the extra cost. We needed the room with a play pen and all of us in there using the balcony. It was quite spacious. The balcony was great, the room location was very quiet, and just a few doors down from the Neptune Lounge (the exclusive lounge for suite/penthouse guests). There was tons of closet and drawer space. The bathroom had a tub and separate shower. There were double sinks. There was also a separate vanity area. The couch, which pulled out into a bed, was not comfortable. It was very deep and the cushions did not fit into it well, which meant that they kind of sloped down. It was difficult to sit on. The throw pillows need to be thrown! There are several amenities that come with staying in the suites, too many to list. Besides the space, the use of the Neptune Lounge and personal concierge were the most important. We dealt with one person for all our needs.
Rotterdam Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Juneau
    The highlight of our trip for the kids was going to be a helicopter ride and dog sledding on the Mendenhall Glacier. The excursion was cancelled secondary to weather - wind and rain. Needless to say, our day in Juneau was a bit disappointing. It was cold, 50 degrees, and raining. We did do the tramway which was fine. The views would have been beautiful I'm sure in better weather. The main street is very touristy. Over 400 shops with jewelry and tourist trinkets. The port didn't have much "personality"
    View All 1,546 Juneau Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Ketchikan
    Ketchikan was our favorite port, and we had the least amount of time there - only 4 1/2 hours. It was 60 and partly cloudy. We felt like it had the most "personality". We decided to do the Misty Fjords float plane excursion because the dog sledding got cancelled. It was a last minute decision, that saved us lots of money. We purchased it on-shore (there are booths set up right when you get off the ship). On-board it was $295 per person. We got it for $169 per person (same company!) We did leave the 2 year old with grandma, which was good decision. I think she would have been okay, but it was pretty loud. The older girls, and us enjoyed it. It was about an hour and a half of flying and 15 min on a lake. The scenery is beautiful and the flight was pretty smooth. We didn't see any wildlife though, and the pilot didn't narrate - which would have been nice. Creek street is a cute little place with some fun shops. I had read online that the salmon would be running the 3rd week in June (thus a lot of bears to see). We found out that this doesn't actually happen till mid July. The fish and chips in the little booths when we got off the ship were great!
    View All 1,784 Ketchikan Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Sitka
    We tendered into Sitka from the ship. This process went fairly smoothly, as they had people disembarking based on excursion times. The weather was overcast and 55 degrees.
    We did go on a 3 1/2 hr guided bus tour. First stop was the historic Michelangelo church. We weren't there for long, just long enough to see it. The driver took us on a short bus tour of the city, pointing out normal tour bus highlights. Then we went to the raptor center. The kids enjoyed this. There is an up-close interview with one of the trainers and a bald eagle in a small room. We were able to take pictures and ask questions. There are a variety of eagles and raptors at the facility to see. Next, we went to the community center to see the Russian dancers. The show was about an hour. The older girls enjoyed it. I was out in the hall with the baby most of the time. Lastly, we went to totem pole park. We didn't spend much time here, as it was almost 1 and the kids were getting hungry. There is a fair amount of easy hiking you can do. We did a short loop, got some pictures, and walked to town for lunch (we didn't want to wait for the driver to come pick us back up.)
    Two highlights of Sitka were all the eagles and our lunch at The Bayview. The eagles were everywhere! Fun for us and the kids! We have a family connection in Sitka, and we had lunch with her at The Bayview. It's just a great place for sandwiches, salads, soup, etc. I would highly recommend it. She said it is a locals favorite!
    View All 336 Sitka Cruise Port Reviews
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